Have you ever visited a country or a state and felt as if you belonged? That’s how I felt when I went to Kenya. Living in a middle-eastern country as a Caribbean-American/Black woman can be daunting at times. If you are not are not being propositioned, you are being stared at, or have people wanting to touch your hair. You are AUTOMATICALLY African (there is nothing wrong with being African), and you suddenly feel the need to proclaim your American citizenship in hopes of receiving an alternative response. The fear of hearing the word “Kam” which means ‘How much?’ in Arabic never entered my spirits or my auditory receptors when I entered the beautiful land of Hakuna Mattata–Kenya.
I visited Kenya in December and my experience was one that I will never forget. Though I did not engage in a variety of activities, I enjoyed my time nonetheless. Upon disembarking at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, I felt a sense of peace and belonging. Although the language was foreign, there was a certain sense of kinship between myself, these unknown travelers and residents of Kenya. When I first decided to visit Kenya, I was overcome with a feeling of joy, anticipation, and anxiety. I have traveled by myself before, but never to this extent and within this capacity. Nonetheless, I was and am thrilled that I took a leap of faith and embarked upon my solo-adventure.
Before arriving to Kenya, I reached out to some locals through an international community of travelers called CouchSurfing as well as a Nomadness Travel Tribe who are a group of black travelers who share a deep passion for exploring the world and immersing themselves in cultural pools, everywhere. On Couchsurfing, I met a woman by the name of Ms. Pauline. In viewing Ms. Pauline’s profile, it stood out to me because she had a passion for children and philanthropy. In my eyes, she had a kindred spirit and my interactions with her confirmed my impressions. In addition to running an orphanage for displaced children, she is an entrepreneur of a tour company in Kenya. It was clear to me that I needed to use her services while in Kenya. Ms. Pauline organized my Safari to Masai Mara and even offered to host me at her home in Mombasa upon my return from the Safari. She organized for a driver to pick me up from the airport in the early morning of December 26th and take me on my journey to the Masai Mara National Reserve.
After driving for 6 hours, 2.5 of which involved driving on rocky unpaved roads, we arrived in Masai Mara at the Rhino Camp. Suffice it to say, I relied on my trusty dramamine to help me along the way. When we arrived, we were met with smiling faces and two women who insisted on carrying our bags into our tents. The ladies briefed us on the ins and outs of the camp. My main concerns were “when would food be served, was there an outlet to charge my phone and camera, and what time is the game drive?” All of my questions were answered and all was well with the world in my book. Here is a short video that shows what the campsite looked like.
On Safari, I was able to see the Big Five plus some. I even saw a leopard, which is really hard to find, according the the tour guide. That made me feel blessed. The expanse of land and the beautiful landscape that is Masai Mara was absolutely breathtaking. I definitely recommend that you visit Mara at these once in your life. Apart from seeing the animals and feeling a sense of peace and freedom while on Safari, I was humbled by the opportunity to see the Masai people in their element. Observing their lifestyle made me reflect upon my own life and how some of the things that I worry about are so trite in comparison to how the Mara people live their lives. They depend on the land and their livestock to sustain their life and livelihood. The Manyattas which are the homes in which they live are built from cow dung and other things found in their natural environment. It is also noteworthy that the women play a vital role in the tribe. They not only care for the children, THEY build the manyattas, care for the animals, fetch firewood to cook with and keep their homes warm, among many other things. I am in awe of the strength and vibrancy of these women. When you look at them, their beauty is astounding. The exude an inner strength and beauty that radiates from inside, out. You don’t have to take my word for it, you can visit for yourself. In the meantime, I have added some photos for your perusal.
If I spoke about my entire trip to Kenya, I would be writing forever. I will end here and say that my trip to Kenya was one that I will never forget. I hope you enjoyed reading this entry. I will update you on my upcoming adventures. Next stop…THAILAND! Until then…